I have been making a journey for the past year, originally intended to be a short trip toward a few pounds off – but it has snowballed into a complete life change.  I have learned so much from the Biggest Loser Club, and have a far greater understanding now of why I got where I was, and what I need to do to keep from going back there.

I have met an enormous number of people who are undertaking the same journey, and have seen both ends of the spectrum – those who are grimly determined to do whatever they must, and those who clearly should not be in the Club because they are not even close to making a real commitment to healthy living.  I know that I have been in both groups… but I hope that I am firmly entrenched, now, in the first.

I wrote this during a moment of extreme frustration with some of the excuses I was hearing (and making!):

This is about ME.  It is for ME.  It is up to ME, because in the end, the only one who can change ME is, yep, you guessed it, ME.

It is about ME because, after all, this is my life.  It is my health, it is my entire future on the line.  Will I spend it overweight, listless, tired and unhealthy?  Will I spend it always thinking in terms of what I “can” and “can’t” do?  Will I spend it as a bad example for my children and as living proof to those around me that it “can’t be done”?  Or will I spend it taking responsibility every second of every day for all of my actions and decisions?  Will I spend it making a conscious choice each time I take a bite or get up of my chair, to be healthy and strong and constantly improving?  Will I be a beacon to my children, of strength and hope and responsibility and self-value?  No one can make that choice but ME.

It is for ME because I don’t want to be tired.  I don’t want to be depressed; I don’t want to feel that I am a failure and worthless and lazy and undisciplined and a quitter.  I don’t want to be fat.  I don’t want to be weak.  I don’t want to have high blood pressure…high cholesterol…heart palpitations…migraines…joint problems…muscle weakness…fatigue.  I don’t want to be listless and aimless and hopeless.  I don’t want to age – I want to ripen!  I want to blossom, into the most amazing, strong, beautiful, sexy, powerful person I can possibly be.  I want my late 30s, my 40s, my 50s – to be the best part of my life so far.  I want to be friends with my daughters as they grow up and start their own families; I want to be the “young grandma” – and y’all, that has nothing to do with age!  I want to play.  I want to be able to go with my husband on cruises and vacations and whatever, and have fun.  I want to LIVE the rest of my life – not just exist. I want to know that my husband can look at me and be proud that I am his, and know that he is at least as blessed in his wife as any other guy out there.  I know he already loves me, and thinks I’m great.  I want to agree with him.  I want to love myself as much as he loves me, because – no, not because of how I look – because I did this.  Because I did not quit.  Because I was strong and fierce and not to be denied! Because I refused to take no for an answer from myself.  Because I was good enough.  Because I just did it.  That’s what I want for ME.

It is up to ME, because who can do this for me?  No one.  My friends can support me and encourage me and compliment me, and they do.  They can be there for me by not offering me unhealthy crap that they know I don’t need.  They can listen with a sympathetic ear when I whine about how hard it is.  They can understand that I don’t eat out with them a lot any more because it’s just not in line with my plan.  They can help me…but they can’t do it for me.  

My husband can support me too, and tell me how great and sexy I look, and how proud he is of me.  He can brag about me to his friends and his family and our neighbors and yes, even virtual strangers on the street – and he does.  He can buy me new clothes and give me rewards for my progress like a new bike at 25 pounds or a vacation getaway at 50 pounds…and he does!  He can even go so far as to do the program with me, because it makes it easier for me and makes me feel better about his health – and oh, he does.  But no matter how wonderful he is, no matter how much he is there for me, he cannot do it for me. 

My kids can put up with the changes, tolerating even the loss of some of their favorite foods because they are my favorites too and I can’t have them in the house — and they do. They can put up with the switch to whole-wheat, low-fat, no-sodium, etc…without complaining much…and for the most part, they do.  They can tell me I look really skinny and tell their teachers I’m getting thin – and my goodness, they do!  They can cheer me on and give me stern looks and finger-shakes when I reach for that brownie or those French fries – and good Lord, you’d better believe they do.  But no matter what, no matter how patient they are and how supportive, they cannot do it for me. 

My online BLC message-board family can be there for me in so many ways…they can listen to me whine and cry and rage about everything imaginable.  They can share their own frustrations and successes and worries…they can be there to give me a shoulder or a whip-crack, depending on which I need…they can know exactly what I’m going through and how hard it can be…and they can tell me what has helped them, what has worked for them, and so make me wiser and stronger and more likely to succeed.  And oh, my friends, they do…they do.  But no, I’m sorry…even they cannot do it for me.

No one can.  It is, and always will be, up to ME.

No one can change ME, except for ME.  You might think that makes ME feel rather alone.  And I guess it could, if I looked at it that way.  But guess what?  I don’t.  Because here’s the cool thing…

“No one can change ME but ME.”  Really, really think about what that means.  No one else can change ME…but I can.  I can change ME.  I can do this for ME.  I can, I can, I can

No more “can’t”.  Not for ME!  I can stop blaming my health on everything else in the world, step up and take responsibility  – and that’s hard for a lot of people, because no one wants to feel like they are responsible for being the way we are.   But what they fail to realize is that doing so is incredibly empowering – because if only YOU got you where you are today, then only YOU can get you out.  And again, really think about those words…only YOU can…which breaks down to “YOU can!”

But you have to do it.  Talking about it won’t work…thinking about it won’t work…planning it out won’t work…making all the lists and menus and schedules and routines in the world won’t work…unless you do it.  All those things are very valuable tools to keep you going, but you have to get started first.  

Step 1:  Put down the brownie…Step 2:  pick up the apple or the carrot sticks or the wheat bread or the lean protein or whatever your Biggest Loser Club meal plan calls for.    Step 3:  Get up and move.  Doesn’t matter how, just move. Repeat as necessary. 

And remember, Steps 2 and 3 are at least as important as Step 1!  Self-denial and restraint are nothing at all if you are not replacing the bad habits with the good.  Don’t starve your body – feed it what it needs!  If you have to go over your calories for the day, do it with healthy stuff!  Your body does know the difference, and it will reward you with better muscle tone, less fat, greater endurance, and an enormous sense of well-being.

Think of it like this:  If your car is running poorly and getting bad gas mileage because of bad fuel, what do you do?  Do you stop putting gas in it entirely, or keep giving it the same bad stuff, but just give it less?  Don’t be ridiculous!  Of course not, because then you get nowhere at all!   The very best that can happen there is you stall and are stuck in one spot – the worst is you ruin your engine.

No, what you do is you give it good fuel.  (You probably also have some sort of repairs done, too, if you’ve let it go long enough.)  You go out and you find out what kind of fuel it needs, and you give it that.  And it runs better.

So treat yourself and your body at least as well as you treat your car!  Regular maintenance and necessary repairs (doctor’s visits); periodic driving (exercise!) — because we know cars need to be driven regularly —  and good fuel.  It’s not so much to ask, really.

It isn’t going to be easy – kicking an addiction, and changing your habits completely, is not easy.  But the great news is that it’s not impossible, either.  How, you ask, can you do it?  There’s no magic formula or potion or chant to recite.  Nobody can tell you a shortcut or a “cheat”.  (They can tell you, but it won’t work.)  You have to just do it.  Just put down the lead and pick up the gold.  Don’t think about it, don’t examine it, don’t plan to do it later – just do it NOW.  And again in five minutes…no excuses, no laziness, no self-pity, no justification.  Just do it, one decision at a time.  Don’t think about the next decision…don’t think about the last decision.  I don’t care if you ate a doughnut an hour ago or you’re going to eat a great salad later – what are you eating now?  I don’t care if you worked out this morning or you’re going to run a mile later…what are you doing now?

Just do it.  Stop making excuses and start making changes.  If you have health issues – work around them. FIND a way.  There is always a way.  TALK to your doctor, don’t just say you’re going to – pick up the phone right now and call, tell him what your health issues are and ask him what exercise you can do.  Don’t accept a lame, half-answer like “gentle exercise”.  Get a specific response.  Can you walk?  Can you exercise in a pool?  Can you use a recumbent bike?

We all have issues…we all have problems…we all have “reasons” why we just can’t do it.  And it’s all a bunch of BS.  There may be things you can’t do – but there is something you can do.  FIND IT.  

The bottom line is, you can make excuses to me all day long.  You can make excuses to everyone who wants to help you and give you tips.  You can come up with a million different “reasons” why you can’t do it.  But you can’t lie to your body.  It knows.  So if you are interested in finding excuses why it’s just “too hard” – save yourself, and us, the grief.  Just give up now and accept that you will always be unhealthy, because if you are more interested in making excuses than in making changes, you will be.

But if you really and truly are done with the extra weight…done with the body mass that doesn’t belong there…done with being tired and not feeling well and feeling older than you are…then you have to do it.  You have to do the work, even when it’s hard.

It’s worth it, I promise.